Films of my life – 1963

 

“I say attend, actually I didn’t see the movie, as my mother was pregnant with me and she went to see it!”

clapperboardWelcome to my blog! Each week I will be reviewing the movies released in a particular year of my life and identifying my favourite movie from that year.

It makes sense to start this journey with the year of my birth. My first cinema experience, and one that may explain my love of movies, was “attending” a showing of the Bond movie “From Russia With Love”. I say attend, actually I didn’t see the movie, as my mother was pregnant with me and she went to see it!

“From Russia With Love” is a favourite movie and one of the best Bond’s, but it is not my film of the year. Other contenders (obviously all seen later in life) include the following classics;

  • The Birds (Hitchcock classic)
  • Jason & the Argonauts (Iconic sword & sandals from Ray Harryhausen )
  • Its A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (the very definition of madcap)
  • The Pink Panther (introducing Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau)
  • 81/2 (Fellini classic that I only saw for the first time in 2015)
  • Disney’s The Incredible Journey (household pets are lost and trying to get back home)
  • The Nutty Professor (as a child, I thought it was funny)
  • Move Over Darling (Doris Day and Rock Hudson (!) in a romantic comedy which is far funnier than I thought as a child)

Great EscapeNo,  my choice for 1963 is “The Great Escape”, a perennial bank holiday movie from my youth with a great true(ish) story, superb cast (Steve McQueen – “Cooler King”; Dicky Attenborough, James Garner, Donald Pleasence to name but a few) and one of the most familiar and iconic themes. I actually played the theme (badly) as part of my brief flirtation with the clarinet, playing in the St Cuthbert’s Grammar School Band in 1975-76.

I actually played the theme (badly) as part of my brief flirtation with the clarinet,

Why did I choose this movie over the others I mentioned? It is probably one of the best war movies and I was born at the tale end of the post-war baby boomer era (apparently it ended in 1964). As such,  we  grew up nourished on stories from the second world war, both those told by our families (Uncle Billy worked as a translator, possibly for British Intelligence during the war) and in the plethora of movies on the TV. Remember, this was in the era before video or DVD, when movies could only be seen by live transmission – at the cinema or on TV. So, I grew up on the heroism of WWII, playing “Japs and English” (I know, not PC).

Directed by John Sturges, The Great Escape is similar in tone and style to his previous movie “The Magnificent Seven”. It also includes 3 stars from that movie; McQueen, Charles Bronson and James Coburn. The contrast between the stiff upper lip and formality of the Brits and the more laid-back approach of the Yanks (James Garner as Hendley “The Scrounger” is particularly good fun).

Although it is remembered as light hearted, the ending of the film is bitter-sweet, as not everyone gets out. That said, the various storylines are beautifully played.

All in all, the perfect movie for a wet bank holiday.

Best Scene

Steve McQueen on a motorbike! Apparently it was not based on a real event, but was added in at the actor’s request!

What do you think of “The Great Escape”?

 

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